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13 April 2022

We continue to guard against Covid to keep residents safe and well

Extra safety measures remain in place in Coate Water Care’s nine residential care homes in Swindon, Wiltshire, Gloucester, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Hampshire, even as coronavirus restrictions have been removed elsewhere.

When it comes to the well-being of our residents, we believe caution is the correct approach.

Coate Water Care home staff still wear PPE (gloves, plastic apron and face mask) when carrying out personal care such as washing or dressing of all residents. Staff also follow strict hygiene practices – for example, frequent hand washing, frequent cleaning of shared areas and keeping areas well ventilated.

When our carers are wearing masks, this may be unsettling for people with dementia who can’t see familiar faces. Staff will be reassuring and may attach a labelled photo of themselves to their front, to make it easier for people to see who they are.

The vast majority of our staff have now been vaccinated against COVID-19. While vaccination is no longer a requirement to work in a care home, most staff have had both vaccines, and all have been encouraged to have their booster.

Our homes may still suggest keeping residents at a safe distance from each other. For example:
- allowing more distance between people during group activities
- greater use of outdoor or garden areas; for example, for safe exercise or entertainment
- staggered mealtimes – so people can sit down with more spacing.

If changes to the person’s normal routine reduce their opportunities for activities or social contact, they may feel low or sad. Where people are asked to eat alone in their rooms they may eat and drink less.

A person’s dementia may make the changes harder to understand and cause agitation, irritability or anxiety. Visiting and keeping in touch with the person may help to reduce these problems. Please contact the individual homes for more details of visiting arrangements and times.

Safety measures for visitors

You will need to wear a PPE during your visit. Ask the care home to guide you on the appropriate PPE for the situation.

The government advises that all visitors to care homes should wear face masks.

Visitors and residents who want physical contact – such as handholding, should be supported to make this possible. This can help improve the person’s wellbeing. To allow this, safety measures such as ventilation in visiting spaces and hand washing procedures should be in place.

Close physical contact – such as hugging – is riskier, but will be safer between people who are fully vaccinated.

When you won’t be allowed to visit a care home

If there is an outbreak of coronavirus (two or more confirmed cases), indoor visiting will stop. Visiting will stop until at least 14 days after the last person had coronavirus symptoms. In some cases, visiting may only be stopped for 7–8 days if there are no further cases found with thorough testing of the whole care home.

An exception will be made for essential caregivers and for visiting someone who is nearing the end of their life. It may also be possible for outdoor or screened visits to continue subject to a risk assessment.

You also won’t be allowed to visit at all for any of the following reasons:
- if you have any symptoms of coronavirus on the day
- if you have tested positive

Managing your feelings when you visit

If it’s been a long time since you’ve seen the person with dementia you may feel emotional when you visit. If the person has memory problems, you may need to gently remind them who you are.

Familiar aspects of your appearance such as clothes, a hairstyle and perfume/aftershave that the person associates with you may help them to remember.

Talking about times you’ve enjoyed together may be a way of keeping the conversation more cheerful. Speak clearly and louder than usual to be heard through your face covering.

Don’t be surprised if the person’s dementia has got worse since you last saw them or if they seem low. They may improve with ongoing support, and their feelings for you remain, even if they seem hidden.

Try to be flexible and work with everyone as best you can. Before you leave, arrange the next visit. This will give you and the person something to focus on and look forward to.

To find out more about any of Coate Water Care’s nine residential care homes, about the way we care for people living with dementia or to book a viewing please contact our friendly Welcome Team on 01793 821200.


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